Updated: Jan 23
By Hanuman |
Resident Yogi Hanuman shares his story and insights on what makes the alchemical process of kombucha brewing a labor of love, growth, and healing.
The Elixir of “Immortali-tea”
The making of Kombucha is a tradition that has mysterious origins. It is said to have been called the “Tea of Immortality” in ancient Chinese medicine. What interests me most about Kombucha is that it creates a healing way to share joy and love with our community and visitors alike. We find ways to make each other smile, to feel joyfully alive, and Kombucha has given me a way to invigorate such effervescent moments with others.
As part of this exploration, I have been brewing Kombucha for about one and half years and have made over fifty batches.
It takes between 21-30 days to ferment here in our cool mountain climate. Fermentation is a chemical process in which microorganisms, such as bacteria and yeast, convert sugar into organic acids and alcohol.
Because the bacteria and yeast are naturally occurring in the surrounding environment, the amount of alcohol is relatively low (less than 0.5%). After the culture has fermented the tea to the point that says, “yes, I’m ready!” I add seasonal fruits, which are often in abundance here on Arunachala our mountain top home, named after the holy mountain in India where Sri Ramana Maharshi abided. We have over 1500 fruit trees growing on this blessed land!
After a few days of “mellowing in the miracle,” I squeeze and remove the fruit and seal the blend in glass bottles. This initiates a second fermentation in which the carbon dioxide that is released is trapped and suspended in the liquid. This part is an adventure. Sometimes the brew fizzes rapidly and other times, slowly but surely. Each batch turns out quite unique, even when the same ingredients are used!
Some of the many flavors the Brewery has explored:
Pineapple and Mango Nectar Kombucha
Miraculous Mandarina Kombucha
Christmas Apple Cinnamon Kombucha
Sparkling Strawberry and Lime Kombucha
Mora & Ginger Lemonade Kombucha
Lemongrass Lemonade Kombucha
Soft and Sweet Golden Guanabana Kombucha
Watermelon Jolly Rancher Kombucha
Araza & Mora Elixir
A Symbiotic Culture
Kombucha is interesting as an alchemical metaphor in that it takes the simple raw ingredients of water, sugar, and tea, and with patience, the SCOBY, (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) transforms the brew into a probiotic elixir. The SCOBY is a unique living creature. It looks as if it crossed the galaxy from a planet of marshmallow mushrooms! It is sometimes called “the Mother” because it gives birth, or starts, the growth of the Kombucha Culture in the tea.
Kombucha is healing, not only in its probiotic properties that give a boost to the healthy bacteria colonizing one’s gut biome, but also in creating symbiotic friendships between brewers and drinkers!
The Arunachala Kombucha Brewery
The Arunachala Kombucha Brewery has been passed down through the hands of several other courageous brewing explorers, before reaching these curious hands. Making Kombucha is a labor of love that teaches patience and perseverance, acceptance and admiration.
The process is miraculous and is a reminder to be humble and recognize that life is full of wonder and mystery! It pragmatically teaches me to be mindful of keeping spaces clean and cared for, and like any living creature under one’s care, must be attended to and nurtured with love.
Sometimes I laugh and think that the Kombucha Brewery is a mature version of the lemonade stand. It has been a joyful way to share my love for the community.
Here at the Ashram, we have an ongoing film study program that transforms the upstairs of the lodge into the Sat Yoga Cinema. This is the moment when the Kombucha Bar is open for business! Once libations have been acquired, we all head up together to start the film. We have explored films from the silent era of Hollywood through to the most current acclaimed creators. After the film, we finish the night with a lively discussion that allows us to examine the movie from many different perspectives. We can apply the themes and insights from the film to our daily life and see how it relates to our path of maturation and spiritual growth.
See our most recent blog post, “The Big Lebowski: A Postmodern Prophet?” which includes a film night essay by Purusha and a video teaching from Shunyamurti inspired by the film.
Brewing Kombucha is an excellent metaphor for surrender and allowing life to unfold and to be present to the way in which the dream wants to present itself in this moment. It’s like playing a song you have played for years and yet allowing it to come out with subtle differences each time. It may have the same melody and structure, but the inflection and feeling can be surprisingly new each time.
Each batch of Kombucha is an opportunity to remember that life is full of potential and possibility. It is up to each one of us to grow like the SCOBY and expand every moment of our precious lives to manifest the Infinite!